The NMDC has published Museums Matter, an 18-page document packed with evidence supporting museums’ importance to the nation and their local communities. The document is mixed with text and infographics which are downloadable as one or in individually sections. The government’s spending review will be announced on 25 November and will set out departmental budget cuts over the next five years. In July the chancellor, George Osborne ordered government departments to plan ways to cut up to 40% from their budgets by 2019-20 in a bid to find an additional £20bn savings in public spending.

Museums Matter hopes to state the case to government of the importance of museums by describing how they are uniquely able to make a significant impact because of their collections, their buildings and the expertise of their staff.  It argues that museums preserve, promote and protect one of the few irreplaceable public assets, the nation’s heritage, which is fundamental to maintaining a healthy and prosperous civil society.

It says that increases in visitor numbers result in consequently higher visitor spending both at the museum and in its surrounding area. Throughout the document there are examples of museums prospering and delivering social and economic benefit to their communities, for example Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums has a net economic impact on its region of £8.5m per year and Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust lets property to enterprises which have a resonance with its collection.

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It’s meant to have multiple purposes ahead of the Government Spending Review for Advocacy in museums. Making the case for investment in museums to national government on local budget setting and making the case for public funding in museums from big nationals to those working in the local community.

Suzie Tucker, NMDC’s Head of Strategy and Communications

The document illustrates how public investment in museums of all sizes and scope enables them to contribute to eight key public policy priorities across the UK:

  • Creating a thriving, vibrant and diverse cultural life for the nation;
  • Contributing to regional prosperity;
  • Developing tourism – museums are the country’s most popular visitor attractions;
  • Strengthening the UK’s soft power;
  • Developing peaceful and prosperous communities by creating safe and welcoming community spaces;
  • Promoting health and well-being;
  • Education, life-long learning, skills development and apprenticeships;
  • Being world leaders in scientific, technological and creative innovation.

“It’s meant to have multiple purposes ahead of the Government Spending Review for Advocacy in museums,” said Suzie Tucker, NMDC’s Head of Strategy and Communications. “Making the case for investment in museums to national government on local budget setting and making the case for public funding in museums from big nationals to those working in the local community.”

With evidence from a wide range of sources and case studies from across NMDC’s membership, Museums Matter demonstrates that the UK’s museums are more popular, innovative and internationally respected than they ever have been, and provide a substantial return for the public investment they receive.

“It’s really to help our members and the wider sector with their advocacy – if they are talking to local councils it gives them resources and a key narrative to fit around their own needs.”

Museums Matter provides a strong case for museums’ place in society by saying they are civic institutions that simultaneously serve a local, regional, national and international audience, as well as an online audience who may never cross the threshold. Museums matter because they uniquely serve a public past, a public present and a public yet to be born.

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Dementia-friendly activities at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter. Courtesy of RAMM